Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

James F. D. Lanier  

Autobiography of James F. D. Lanier

Few men, if any, have reflected more honor upon Indiana than Mr. J. F. D. Lanier, though not a native of the State. Through a long life he was regarded as one of the ablest financiers of the country.

On two different occasions, at the solicitation of the Governement, he visited the moneryed ceners of Europe to induce the capitalists of the old world to ivest in our Governemnt securities, and both time met with great success.

In the dark days of the Union, when gold had mounted up until it was almost unpurchasable with out currency; when it looked as if the South might eventually wear out the courage and endurance of the North, and the Government was struggling everywhere to secure the means whereby the enormous expenses of prosecuting the war might be met, bonds were offered on the market. They found a ready sale in this country, but foreign capitalosts were afraid of them. In 1865, as the war was coming rapidly to a close, Mr. Lanier was about to visit Europe. The secretary of the Treasury requeste dhim to act on behalf of the Government, in setting forth to the moneyed men of Englaned and the continent, the debt of the United States, and her resources. On his arrival at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, he was invited to address a meeting of bankers and capitalists. He did so, setting forth the great resources of the United States in such a strong and convinving light that there was no longer any hesitancy on their part in investing in our bonds. His address was published in English and German by the papers and windely circ ulated. For the ability thus displayed, and the success attending his efforts, Mr. lanier received the thanks of the Government.

Three years later - 1868 he was again requested by the Secretary of the Treasury to speak for the Government abroad, in aid of an effort to float a five precent bond, and equal success attended his efforts.

His first trip to Eurppoe was in behalf of the State of Indiana. In 1847 the State of Indiana was practically banrupt. She had burdened herself with a large bet for the purpose of carrying out a great scheme of internal improvements, and for several years had defa ulted the interest upon her bonds. By this course her credit had been destroyed and the prosperity of the State seriously checked. Most of the bonds were held in Europe, and the holders were clamorous for the payment of the payment of the interest, and the State was out of funds. The Legislature passed an act on 27 Jaunary 1847 for the settlement of the bonds ona new basis. Mr. Lanier was selected to proceed to Europe and lay the proposition before the boandholders. He was supplied with the new bonds, or certificates of State stock, with which to take up the old bonds, and was given the power to transfere the Wabash and Erie canal, and the lands belonging to the State, to the Trustees selected for that purpose. The certificates of State Stock were all d uly signed, but the amounts and names of the parties were left blank to be filled by Mr. Lanier. His mission was successful , and the load of debt was lifted in such a way that Indiana at once entered upon an era of prosperity.

Mr. Lanier was born in Washington, North Carolina, November 22, 1800. He was an ancestor of Thomas Lanier, a french Huguenot and his ancestors fled from France on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. By intermarriage they became connected with the Washington family. One ancestor married a sister of John Washington, the first first of the family to come to America, while another married a sister of Mary the mother of George.

His grand father, James Lanier servied in the Revolutionary War and fought with General Wayne in his campaign against Indiana on the Maumee. He had emigrated to Tennessee and later to Kentucky. In 1807 his father, Alexander Chalmers Lanier removed to Ohio, and freed his slaves. He served in the War of 1812, attaining the rank of Major; and in 1817, removed to Madison, Jefferson county, Indiana, where he conducted a store until his death in 1820. His fathere was unsucccessfil in business and died insolvent, but his son, afterward, from his own accum ulations paid all the debts in f ull.

James F. D. Lanier recieved his education in Eaton, Ohio.; an academy at Newport, Ky. and at Madison, where has, as he says "for a year and a half, the almost inestimable advantage of a private schgool taught by a very superior person from the Eastern states" - presumably Rev. Wm. Robinson, a Presbyterian missionary who located there in 1810, and conducted a private school, in addition to founding the first Sunday school and the first Presbyterian church.

At Madison in 1819 Lanier began reading law in the office of Gen. Alexander A. Meek, and concluded his studies at the Transylvania Law Scol in Kentucky, were he graduated from in 1823. He soon commaned a good practice, and his income from that was supplemented by receiving, in 1824, the appointment of Assistant Clerk of the House of Representatives, a position he held for three years, when he was made Principal clerk in indiana_map_1827. His salary was $3.50 per day. While James F. D. Lanier was in law practice in Madison, Milton Stapp entered the law office and studied under him.

His pruchase od the assets of the Farmers & Mechanic Bank was his first recorded financial venture, and probably started him on the career in chich he was so phenomenally successful , and of so great service to the State and to the Nation.

On Decemebr 9, 1929 the State Temperance Society, auxilary to the American Temperance Society was organized. at its first annual meeting on Decemebr 13, 1830, J. F. D. Lainer wa secretary.

In 1830 James F. D. Lanier was the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Indiana at that time he was living in Madison and was a practicing lawyer.

In 1833, when the State Bank was organized, he became interested in that insitution, being the largest individual stockholder. He was made president of the Madison Branch.

In 1836-7 - We find that he was issued several land patents for property around Lake Maxinkuckee in Marshall county, Indiana as follows:

  • James F. D. Lanier obtained the land patent of the North West quarter of Section fifteen which would of been 160 acres; also a part of this patent was the East half of the South quarter of Section 17 which would of been 80 acres for a total of 240 acres on 30 June 1837
  • James F D. Lanier obtained the land patent the North half of section thirty four which would of been approximately 118 79/100 acres; with this was the East half of the North East quarter of section thirty four which contained 80 acres for a total of 198 79/100 acres on 30 June 1837.
  • James F. D. Lanier obtained a land patent for the Fractional Section Twenty seven. Acreage is undeterminable by the certificate for this piece of land. This patent also contained land in sections Twenty, Twenty one and Twenty eight for a total of 793 32/100 acres total.
  • James F. D. Lanier obtained a land patent for the Fractional section Twenty one. Acreage is undeterminable by the certificate for this piece of land. This patent also contained land in sections Twenty, Twenty seven and Twenty eight for a total of 793 32/100 acres total.
  • James F. D. Lanier obtained a land patent for the Fractional section Twenty eight. Acreage is undeterminable by the certificate for this piece of land. This patent also contained land in sections Twenty, Twenty one and Twenty seven for a total of 793 32/100 acres total.

Of the above land patents listed above James F. D. Lanier owned approximately 1129 10/100 acres of land around the lake. Section 16 there was no land patents found and William Thompson ahd the East half of Section 15
And from one abstract for section 20 & 21 - we find this confirmed and the disposal of part of his holdings as follows:
  • Tract Book No. 1 Page 6 Entry Entered by: James F. D. Lanier; Patented to: James F. D. Lanier; Date of Entry: February 26, 1863; Date of Patent: ?; Description: East of Section 20 Township 32, Range 1, containing 320 acres. Also Fractional Section 21, Town 32 Range 1 Containing 155.82 acres Situate Marshall County, Indiana.
  • Deed Record No. A pg. 186; J. F. D. Lanier Elizabeth G. Lanier, his wife To Albert Stone Charles M. Heaton; Instrument - -Warranty Deed; Date of Instrument - - Nov. 18, 1836; Filed and Recorded-March 22, 1837; Consideration- - - - -$350.00; Description of Land Conveyed: The undivided 2/3 of the North East of Sec 20 and the North West fractional of Section 21, both in Township 32 North, of Range 1 East, containing in the whole 213 acres more or less, the said Lanier reserving to himself an equal undivided 1/3 of said land. Situate Marshall County, Indiana
  • Deed Record No. C., Page 545; J. F. D. Lanier Elizabeth G., Lanier, his wife To The Madison and Indianapolis RailRoad Company; Instrument - - Warranty Deed; Date of Instrument - - October 11, 1842 ; Filed and Recorded October 25, 1843; Consideration - - $4417.07; Description of Land Conveyed: The east of Section 20, Fractional Section 21, Town 32 North, of Range 1 East, all in the LaPorte Land District in Marshall County. Other Lands Situate Marshal County, Indiana Excepting and reserving to myself 142 aces to be taken off of the South end of the N.E. of Section 20 and the N.W. Fractional Section 21, Town 32 N. of Range 1 East, hereby conveying all the rest of my interest therein. [(Note of Explanation) The part reserved in Sec. 20 and fractional Sec. 21 above is two-thirds of the same of the South side the whole of the two parcels contains 213 acres, two thirds of which is the 142 Acres named. J. F. D. Lanier. (Note by Abstractor) In body of Deed Grantors name is written as James F. D. Lanier, but in signature as J. F. D. Lanier.]
In 1837 the State Bank was suspeneded and held a million and half of government funds, and Lanier was selcted to go to Washington and adjust matters with Levi Woodbury, then Secretary of Treasury. The suspension was a matter of policy. The bank had a million in specie in itsva ults at the time, but it had twice that amount of notes in cicr ulation and, with all the other banks in the country suspended, it was certain that its specie would be rapidly taken from the state, unless it took the same course. It made a public statment of its reasons, which was accepted by the people and approved by the legislature. Lanier took $80,000 in specie and started for Washington, taking a steamboat to Wheeling and chartering a stage from there to Frederick, Maryland, which was then the western terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio, where he says he was "not a little relieved on reaching the safe conduct of a railroad". On reaching Washington he at once waited on Secretary Woodbury and says: "He received me with great cordiality, and said that our bank was the only one that had offered to pay any portion of its indebtedness in specie. We were allowed to retain the Government deposits till they were drawn in its reg ular disbursements". An idication of the impression he made is found in the fact that he was tendered the position of pension agent for several western states. It can hardly be doubted that the acquaintance he made on these missions was the foundation on the speedy succes that followed his partnerhship with Richard H. Winslow, of New York, on January 1, 1849.

He went to New York in 1848 and formed a partnership with Richard H. Winslow, for the purpose of engaging extensively in railroad building, and to do a general banking business, the banking house was Winslow & Lanier & Co. At that time there were only about six hundred miles of railroads in the West, and they were all poorly constructed and equipped. They began offering bonds of railroads on the New York market, the first bonds of that character ever offered being those of the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad. They frequently negotiated a million dollars of bonds dailey. In six years, from 1849 to 1854, they negotiated the bonds to build more than ten thousand miles of road. In 1859 the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Chicago road, in whos building the firm of Winslow & Lanier had been largely instrumental, went down in the financial storm which swept over the country. Mr. Lanier at once undertook the work of reorganinzing the road, and carried it through so successfully that it soone became on of the great roads of the country.

The Civil War not having bee anticipated by the Federal Government, no provision had been made for clothing and feeding the soldiers. To meet the emergenecy the Madison Branch Bank, then under the presidency of Mr. J. F. D. Lanier, tendered Governor Whitcomb a sum of money sufficient to clothe and feed the Madison soldiers until they were mustered into service. The Govenor having made other arrangements declined the offer, but his action in the premises was such as to occasion much criticism at the time.

In July, 1861, Congress had appropriated two million dollars to be used the by the president in arming loyal citizens in states that were threatened with rebellion. Secretary Stanton, on the strenght of this, advanced Morton $90,000 fot military operations and $160,00 to pay the interest on the Sate debt. The later was not used for that purpose, as Winslow, Lanier & Co. took over that part of the burden, and advanced in all $640,00 for that purpose . This was due to the personal interest of J. F. D. Lanier, who says in his autobiographical sketch, prepared for family:
    "Governor Morton, most anxious to preserve the honor and credit of the state, applied to me to advance the necessary sums. Unless this could be done he felt that he could not justify, before his own state and the country, the position which his friends in the legislature had taken through his counsel and advice. The application was made at the darkest period of the whole war. I could have no security whatever and could only rely for reimbursement on the good faiith of a legislature to be chosen at a future and distant day, and on the chance of its being made up of more upright and patriotic members than those composing the one then in existence. It the great contest should turn out disastrously to the cause of the Union and of freedom, I could never expect to be repaid a dollar. I felt, however, that on no account must the debt of a grreat state be discredited, nor the position of its chief madistrate, the alest and most efficient of all the loyal Governors, and the one who contributed most to our success, be compromised or weakened. No alternative was left to me but to advance the sums required. I would not allow myself to be responsilbe for the consequences of a refusal of his request. If the credit of the state in such a critical period should be destroyed, that of the other states, and even of the Federal government might be so impaired as to render it impossible for them to sustain the ummense burdens of the war. Another influence of very great weight with me was an ambition to maintain the credit of a state with which I had so long been identified, to which I was indebted for my start in life, and for whose credit in former times I had earnestly labored. The last, perhaps, was the ruling motive".

In 1863, when the Legislature failed to make an appropriation to meet the interest upon those bonds, and the Auditor and Treasurer of State held they could pay out no money on that accounty without and appropriation, Mr. Lanier, in connection with his nbanking partner, stepped forward and advanced several hundred thousand dollars, thereby saving the credit of the State once more.
Mr. Lanier never lost his interest in Indiana, and his banking house has been for years the fiscal agent of the State, as well as of many of the counties and cities.

In or before 1871 when it was published he left his Autobiography for his family titled: Sketch of the life of J.F.D. Lanier New York: Hosford & Sons, printers, 1871

The history of the state of Indiana : from the earliest explorations by the French to the present time : containing an account of the principal civil, political, and military events, from 1763 to 1897 Indianapolis: B.L. Blair Co., 1897, pg. 619-23

Indiana and Indianans : a history of aboriginal and territorial Indiana and the century of statehood Chicago: American Historical Society, 1919, Dunn, Jacob Piatt, pgs. 333,403,419,643,418, 1032

Indiana : its history, constitution and present government Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., c1925